Following Jesus comes with a warning. It’s not for the faint hearted.
Matthew 16:24 says:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Luke 14:27 says:
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
As I am going through the process of working things through before God, I am seeing that these verses impact our lives in a big way. It’s only when we come face to face with huge pressure that we begin to realise how massive these verses are. Whether it’s working through betrayal and hurt as I am, or reacting rightly when we face injustice or pressure in the workplace or at home. These verses are hard to process and take some working through.
Jesus is giving us an ultimatum. If we want to follow Him then we must be willing to walk as he did; respond as he did; love under pressure as he did; Forgive as he did.
Jesus’ teaching on love and forgiveness leaves no room for self indulgence. My last blog about leaving hurt behind seems very costly indeed. We feel we have that right to be self indulgent, to keep a record of wrongs, to wallow in self pity and think our problems are worse than anyone else’s. But Jesus says if we really love him we will deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him. This has been very hard to get to grips with, as letting go of hurt and self pity feels an impossible ask. Like pouring liquid gold into the middle of the ocean.
But Jesus says it’s about self denial. Putting Jesus first and putting self to death. How often as Christians do we focus on God’s desires and not our own? For me, not often. Self is up there.
We continue to look to our wonderful saviour who responded to hurt and pain with such selfless love, and self denial. As we begin to understand the huge cost that the Lord Jesus was willing to pay, I pray that we will be willing to die to self more and more. It’s only when we die to self that we begin to understand the blessings that come when we live for Him.
Again, this command is making us lie down in green pastures, we hang on to self indulgence and hate the thought of letting it go, but God in his wisdom sees the blessings we have in him when we are willing to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him. Praying for strength to go the way that leads to life.